A change in Environment Secretary from Owen Patterson to Liz Truss hasn’t slowed the momentum behind the badger cull, which resumed again last night.
Scientific advice has been consistently against the effectiveness of shooting badgers to control bovine TB. Natural England’s chief scientific adviser (whom you might expect to know a thing or two about the subject) described last year’s first wave of culls as an ‘epic failure’. Truss has obviously felt some of the heat from the anti-cull lobby though and is now trying to reassure us that they have taken on board all recommendations about the lack of humane killing in last year’s trial. There will also be analysis of cattle movements and what appears to be a certain amount of fiddling around the edges with vaccination.
It remains a significant question as to whether the marksmen can deliver the required 70% kills in order for the trial to be effective. Indeed shooting too few badgers can exacerbate the problem of TB.
I personally am completely against the cull. Not because of some cute & cuddly notion or a squeamishness about culling in and of itself. Indeed I can completely understand why deer are culled on the basis that we’ve wiped out all possible predators that would keep their numbers in natural balance.
No, I’m against the badger cull because it seems senseless to kill our badgers when it has been proven that this doesn’t work, the scientific evidence argues it could make the situation worse and that only 6% of bovine TB is transmitted from badgers to cattle in the first place.
Think of it the other way around: 94% of TB cases in cattle have nothing to do with badgers. Shouldn’t this be telling us something?
I understand the National Farmers’ Union’s angst about their cattle. It’s devastating when livestock has to be slaughtered and can bring financial ruin to a previously healthy farm.
However, it seems like the government continues to cling to the cull as the panacea for placating desperate farmers in the hope that the problem will just go away. I will be incredibly surprised if this tactic works.
Meanwhile, if you have black and white fur and live underground, try to avoid catching Death By Politics from men with guns.